In the early 1970’s there was no place like South Africa for steam buffs. From Australia, Us, Uk Germany and anywhere steam was in its last stages of operation, they came to Johanessburg, Capetown, Port Elizabeth and Durban with the hope of working on a steam railway in its heyday, or to photograph in the spectacular scenery this country has to offer.

A 15F working the spectacular Tzaneen line on an international from Mozambique

Natal was the land of the Garratt, with GF, GCA and GMAM classes smoking through the Zulu huts in any combination. It all ended late 1974, but the sights and sounds we will never forget.

John Mere, from South Australia worked on the Garratts in Natal. Between shifts he managed spectacular photos such as this of double Gmams

In Where There’s Smoke, we had limited space in the 160 pages, so shot selection was savage. You should see the material that didn’t make it! Anyone who visited this part of the world will have memories flooding back then they see this section of the book.

Even the Industrial lines such as Roossenekal north of Johannesburg were worthy of a visit, Here a 15CA leads a 15F on an ore train. Charlie Lewis is our photographer.

Then there was the Western Cape. With Table Mountain and Sir Lowry’s Pass it offered a legion of photographic opportunities.

Mike Tyak scored this shot of a Gmam making its way East from Worcester on the Transcontinental Passenger bound for Port Elizabeth

North of Capetown, a not so often visited line wound its way towards Namibia, terminating at Bitterfontein. After an 11 course Christmas lunch behind a 25 class on the Drakensburg Express, a few of us ventured up there at the end of 1975.

Het Kruis was probably the most famous spot on this line. John Gaydon recorded this on Boxing day, 1975. Well worth the visit.

We could go on and on about the section depicting the best of South Africa so lets end with probably the most well known spot in the country.

Kaymens River Bridge on the George Knysna branch. Currently closed it is hoped that one day we will hear whistles again.

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